Canada's First Woman M.P. is Honoured
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- Article regarding the unveiling of a commemorative bust of Agnes Macphail at the House of Commons. The acccompanying photograph is of Senator Cairine Wilson (on the left) and Ellen Fairclough, Member of Parliament.
- Canada's First Woman M. P. Is Honoured
A HISTORIC ceremony took place in Ottawa on March 8th, when a bronze bust of the late Agnes Campbell Macphail, first woman member of Parliament, was unveiled near the Speaker's Chambers in the House of Commons.
It was only in 1919 that the Election Act was amended so that any British subject of the full age of 21 years, male or female, might be a candidate for election to the House of Commons. In the following general election, in 1921, Miss Macphail was one of four women who ran for election, but she was the only one elected. She took her seat in the House of Commons on March 8, 1922, and was a member until the general election of 1940, when she was defeated by Walter Harris, now Minister of Finance. She was subsequently elected to the Ontario Legislature as a CCF candidate in 1943 and 1948.
Miss Macphail had been a school-teacher, and ran for election in the Federal field under the banner of the United Farmers of Ontario. However, she had been a member of the CCF from its foundation, and was essentially a farmer-Labour representative. She was deeply interested in the organization of co-operatives for the marketing of farm products. She also was keenly concerned with working conditions, and personally investigated conditions in the Cape Breton mining area in the early 1920's. Perhaps her most important contribution, however, was to prison reform. She was largely responsible for the setting up of a Royal Commission in 1936 to study the Canadian Penal system.
In the House of Commons, tributes were paid by a number of speakers, including the Honourable C. G. Power, and Angus Maclnnis. Mr. Power said, "In the hearts and minds of those of us who knew her is a memorial of a kindly and sincere woman." Mr. MacInnis paid tribute to her as "a woman of warm human sympathies, a great humanitarian and an outstanding Canadian."
The bust of Miss Macphail, by a famous American sculptor, was presented to the House of Commons by her two sisters, Mrs. Meredith Leany[sic], of Palmerston, and Mrs. Hugh Bailey, of Toronto, who actually performed the unveiling ceremony in the presence of members of the House of Commons and the Senate.
UNVEILING OF AGNES MACPHAIL MEMORIAL
Left to right: Senator Cairine Wilson, Ellen Fairclough, M.P.
- Canadian Unionist
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Image Width: 9.5
Image Height: 12.5
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- Agnes Macphail Collection
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- Canadian Labour Congress
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